Monday, August 22, 2011

What We Cheer For

by Sean Wheeler


I applaud things I agree with.  Sometimes I'm the only one clapping and that has it's ups-and-downs, but usually I clap when everyone else does.  Usually, if that many people join in on clapping for something, it's a pretty good thing to be clapping about.  

Not today.

Our first staff meeting was a barrage of "compliance" and "discipline" rhetoric that, though hard-knuckled, had nothing to do with teaching and learning.  We got the new hall pass run-down, policies for tardy students, changes in our in-school suspension process, a reminder about appropriate teacher work attire, and finally, we were told that "Saturday School" was back.  The room erupted in applause.  


How come teachers are pandered to when it comes to celebrating discipline, while any message of engaged teaching and learning is approached with delicate steps, and "pilots", and "roll-out plans"?  While I appreciate teacher frustration in regards to classroom management, the answer shouldn't be to leave the classroom broken and come up with new and better ways to punish kids.  All the hall passes and tardy slips in the world can't help students want to learn.  Why was I sitting in a room full of teachers applauding the effect and ignoring the cause?  Admittedly, teachers have been, and are, continually wrung through the wringer  on all fronts.  It's a tough job and sometimes you just want someone to fix something, anything.  I just wish the first staff meeting of the year could have been about learning.  Or at least it would have been nice if it even got mentioned.

After the applause, of course.


  1. Sean, I empathize with your sentiments here. No applause for that staff meeting!!! Teachers need administrators that can provide them with that high powered opiate called dope...I meant HOPE! You are right being an educator is tough these days as it was in the past but educators need an invigorating fix of inspiration. We have to meet students at the door, the classroom threshold or the hallway with an spirit of hope and inspiration not castigation! The problem is not unique to educators but it is a problem in society...cynicism!!! It is time for administrators to aggressively target and rid the school environment of cynicism! They warn young idealistic and motivated educators about getting "burned out". Why? Because they are. I respect the fact that they have put the years in and the blood, sweat and tears but if you have become the victim of cynicism then move aside! it's our turn to give education, urban education, the shot in the arm it needs. The youth will always respond to our expectations. The lower we set the bar the lower they will stoop. Like my friend, Basheer Jones says we can fly high like the eagle, meaning fly solo and alone or we can "chill below like the pigeons! Well I'd rather be above the negativity and all alone then huddled up with the bunch! It's time to end the cynicism in our nation and in our schools. Lets talk about how we are going to beat the media off of us with a stick because our students are defying the odds and achieving incredible things! We can't and will not support the same old cynical train of thought...we need a collective moment of silence...cynicism has just passed on...and I didn't even shed a tear...can I get some applause Sean?

  2. "Clap your hands everybody, everybody clap your hands."

    Thanks for the positivity.